Mean Gene
Mean Gene
Pittsburgh's most decorated poker blogger, which I admit is like being the best shortstop in Greenland

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My Articles

Presto, the Arlo, & the Hammer
An Online Code of Conduct
The Ethics of Ratholing
"The Professor, the Banker..."
"Ace on the River"

My Columns

Lose the Shades
If You Can't Say Something Nice
Whither the Kicker
The Lady is a Champ?
Covering the WSOP (or not)
Statistics, Luck, and Poker
Poker and New Orleans
Managing a Bankroll
How To Tell A Bad Beat Story
Telling Lies
The Power of Poker Tracker
Advanced Card-Handling

My Greatest Hits

5 Things To Do Before I Die
Cafeteria Nostalgia
Mean Gene's Dubious Dating Tips
Poker and Business?
There's No Such Thing As Luck?
Isabelle, Je t'adore
No Shirt No Shoes No Service
Well, The Food Was Good
Good Morning, Mr. Matusow!
The Weekend of our Discontent, I
The Weekend of our Discontent, II
Books That Left Their Mark
Ode to a Fish Sandwich
Bill Simmons Ain't the Poker Guy
The Sports Guy Still Ain't the Poker Guy
Again, The Media Tackles Poker
Five Years After 9/11
Hitting Pretty Girls in the Face
Sixth-Graders Suck

Fellow Poker Bloggers

Guinness and Poker
Cards Speak
Tao of Poker
Up for Poker
Boy Genius
Chris Halverson
Poker Grub
The Fat Guy
Todd Commish
Poker Works
Bill Rini
Bad Blood
Love and Casino War
Double As
Lion Tales
Paul Phillips
Daniel Negreanu
Poker Nerd
Poker Nation
Poker in Arrears
Human Head
Sound of a Suckout
Chicks With Chips
TP's Table Talk
Royal Poker
This is Not A Poker Blog
Chick and a Chair
Go Be Rude
Poker Cheapskate
Poker & Other Stuff
Seven Two
Musical Poker
WPBT Online
Isabelle Mercier
Cardschat Blog
Amy Calistri
BJ Nemeth
Annie's Blog

Poker Sites

Cardschat Poker Forum
Barstool Sports
Card Player
Internet Texas Hold-Em
Poker Pages


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    Thursday, May 20, 2004

    Swim with Fish Long Enough and You'll Pick Up the Smell

    Several big-name bloggers have recently posted, uh, posts wherein they reflect on the true quality of their play. Both Iggy and Hank write about the evolution of their games. If you're reading my blog it's probable that you read theirs as well, so I won't summerize or comment upon them, other than to say if you haven't read them, you should. They're both in Vegas now, the bastards.

    Anyway, they got me to thinking about my own game, which I feel hasn't been evolving. If anything, I'm backsliding. I don't feel like I'm playing any better than I did a few months ago, and my results reflect it. The last two months I've only about broken even, and this month I'm down about $50, in large part because I got impatient and moved up to $1/$2. I tired of grinding out big $4 wins and wondering if my time would have been better spent by rooting around in the couch cushions.

    I also tired of $25 pot-limit, mostly because I found myself getting gunshy as my bankroll dwindled. Mostly it dwindled by me cashing out a few hundred here, a few hundred there, which in retrospect was a mistake. Had I hung on to the cash for my bankroll I could have fully taken advantage of the deposit bonuses I'm offered as well as shrugging off those bad beats as the duck shrugs off the water.

    So why am I playing poorly? I've actually studied more, reading Cloutier and McEvoy's book as well as Gary Carson's tome, and I think picked up some valuable information. I haven't been playing nearly as much lately, for a number of reasons, but when I do play I don't do well.

    And why is that? I think that, to a large extent, I'm playing down to my level of competition. We know that there are lots of fish out there just waiting to be hooked, scaled, fileted, breaded, panfried, and served with a lime vinagrette. This doesn't mean that these fish won't put up a fight. Doesn't mean that a few of these fish may have learned some non-fishy moves. Doesn't mean that these fish haven't evolved themselves, aren't ready to slog their way out of the surf and take their first sandy steps.

    I've been playing by the book, instead of with my brain, and it's just not much fun. When I'm fully engaged in a game, I have a much, much better time. The perfect example of this is the tournament I took second in last Sunday night. Instead of a school of fish I was up against 32 of the best pokerbloggers in the Free World. Every hand was fraught with...the stuff that gets fraughted. These guys and gals have sharp teeth and hearts of stone. That sudden re-raise that caught you off guard? It might be a bluff, it might be a move, it might be a trick of such diabolical subtley that, fifteen years later, you'll still wake up in a cold sweat trying to figure it out. This wasn't push-in-your-stack-and-pray Party garbage. You had to be on your toes. Your tippy-toes, even.

    I played well--very well, even. When we got four-handed I faced extinction on every deal, so I couldn't just be a spectator and wait for a monster hand. It was a total blast, living on the edge like that. And that's another part of my game that's been lacking--concentration. Watching TV and surfing the 'Net while waiting for a big hand is not the way to poker greatness. If the game isn't interesting enough to hold your attention, should you be playing in the first place?

    So what's the solution, for me anyway? Moving up again in limit--to $3/$6, say--might give me the juice I need to stay focused but might land me in the poorhouse, for now I don't think that's an option. I think more tournament play is what I need right now. I love playing in them, I do well in them, and playing in tournaments may help sharpen my claws for ring games, where aggressiveness has never been one of my stronger suits.

    OK, sorry you had to slog through my self-analysis. Still, not a bad idea to do the same thing yourself. Coming soon, I think some posts about the WPT season so far, including my ultimate WPT table. And, mercy, that Shana Hiatt does wear a bikini well, doesn't she? get this widget Please visit Pokernews site for more poker news, poker strategy articles or poker rules.

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